When did you know you had a love for styling hair, and that you would one day turn it into your career?
My love for hair began as a child, watching women from around our small Caribbean town congregate every Saturday in my Grandmother's kitchen to have their hair pressed straight for parties that night--but more importantly for church the next day. My grandmother’s hands were and will always be my inspiration. (Clients) would state, "Mrs. Alves has healing hands." There is something very emotional about touch, especially of someone’s head.
What does a typical day look like for a successful salon owner?
We start the day with a 'spic and span' salon so that every day is fresh. Every chair is booked so we have to work together as a cohesive team. It's important to me that the talent (stylists) is all happy. This is the environment I've strived to create my whole career: one where people can flourish without inhibition and embrace their own creative spirit. Our clients are an extension of my family (just like my grandmother’s kitchen) and clients need to feel they are experiencing something special--like they deserve this. But as a stylist first and foremost my goal is to have them leave raving about their hair.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
The inspiration and strength I receive from the phenomenal women who are seated in my chair every day. Everyone has a story, a past and a future. I am honored to be a part of that, to play some small role in the lives of the women I have been fortunate to cross paths with, and to make them feel so good when they leave my chair. I am also blessed that my career has enabled me to travel the world as a freelance artist for magazines, fashion, music videos and lifestyle pieces. I am so grateful for the recognition of my work along the way as a brand ambassador for beauty companies.
What are some of the challenges of being a female entrepreneur, and how do you overcome them?
Not only am I an entrepreneur, I am a black woman. To not be taken seriously or rightfully acknowledged and respected is (an issue that is) very prevalent in today’s climate; too many of my peers have not and that saddens me. The beauty industry, like any other, is still a work in progress. But, after ten years in business, with sometimes nothing else to draw on but my strength and fortitude, I remember my worth and it pulls me through the tough days. I am talented, I have a vision and I want to help set a path for others to follow.
Tell us about your personal hair care routine. Do you have a set regimen that’s tried and true, or do you like to change it up a lot?
"Wash and wear" is my motto. I have worn just about every hairstyle, but short natural hair or a shave head fits my personality, style, and lifestyle. I love bringing out the authentic beauty of any client that sits in my chair, so I like to spend as little time as possible on my own hair.
What's the one piece of hair advice you give your clients that you would like our readers to know as well?
I can't narrow it down, so I’d like to share a few pieces of advice:
Remember: Healthy hair grows from a clean scalp.
Get frequent haircuts. A good haircut should evolve as it grows but you must 'tend to the garden' at least every three - four months. If you can't afford your regular stylist that often, someone can usually do a decent trim to keep you going another 4-6 weeks. But then you need to go back to the master stylist.
Don't rely on flat irons. The brush and the blow dryer set your hairstyle. Over using a flatiron leads to hair damage.
Stay away from Keratin. It looks great after the first application but then I have seen how it decays from there. There is a way to alter the chemical composition, but the re-growth should not be treated the same as the old growth. I have seen too many clients have breakage and no point of return from this one mistake.
Hair wraps should be like underpants. They should be cleaned each day. Our scalp and hair has a tremendous amount of oils and is also exposed fully to all of the elements. Have multiple hair wraps on hand for each day of the week.
What three hair products are in your Ultimate Beauty Arsenal--those items you absolutely cannot live without?
I cannot live without these:
Aestelance Deep Conditioning Mud Moisture Pack or Hydrate Leave-in Conditioner
Curl Gloss by Oribe to define my curls
SHU Uemera Absolute Essence oil and Satin Design as my blow-drying combination
Do you have a regular diet and fitness routine?
Yes, Yoga taught me to breathe and keep negativity outside of my body and the spaces around me. Plus it helps my posture when I'm standing behind the chair. Additionally, running or cycling clears my head while keeping me focused and healthy. And finally, I say NO to dairy! It's just not part of my DNA.
Describe your personal style.
Eclectic, Eccentric and Retro Modern; Vivien Westwood meets Margiela meets Comme De Garcon
Where do you go when you're seeking inspiration?
I am Taurean so I need to feel the earth under my feet and have some breathing space. I head to my cottage in Upstate New York to commune with nature. Or I walk through New York City and gaze at the architecture. I visit the Planetarium almost every other week because my 3-year-old son loves it, and it inspires me to watch him explore; there is no purer thing than the thirst for knowledge.
Every year I try to travel to someplace different to renew my spirit and be touched by other people’s lives. Places I've loved include New Zealand, Botswana, Fiji, Indonesia, Morocco, and Tikehau.
Learn more about Edris Nicholls, or schedule an appointment with one of the talented stylists at Edris Salon. Get social with Edris Salon on Facebook and Twitter.